Early Settlers in Walla Walla
by Shaun Reeser
Source: Washington Statesman, April 5, 1862, page 2
Subject: The editors of the newspaper cry fraud about the election.
Synopsis: An article by the editors decrying the recent election results as fraudulent. They call attention to the fact that more men voted in the election than allowed and imply that at least one race may have been altered by this illegal ballot casting.
In pursuance to the proclamation of the Council, an election for city officers was held on Tuesday last. We dislike to find fault; but acting in the capacity of faithful journalists, whose province it is to guard the public interest, it becomes our most imperative duty to say a word or two in condemnation of the manner in which that election was conducted. In the first place, the judges of an election are supposed to be appointed with reference to their fitness for the position. They are supposed at least to know the boundaries of the city, in order to pronounce upon the eligibility of voters, touching the question as to whether they are residents of the city; and they are further supposed to be men who will exercise proper vigilance in the discharge of their duty as judges. We make no allegation against those gentlemen who say in judgment upon the qualification of voters who presented themselves at the polls on last Tuesday, so far as their intention to do right was concerned; but it does seem to us that the whole affair was managed very loosely – that the judges were either ignorant of the boundaries of the city, or that they were entirely unacquainted with the general rules that determine the qualification of voters. It is a fact apparent to all that many illegal votes were cast at this election. Several votes were cast by men who the judges should have known resided outside of the corporation; and we are credibly informed that men who for years have been known by the community to reside miles out in the country were permitted to vote without their right being questioned. From the best information we can gain, there are not to exceed three hundred bona fide [emphasis in original] voters within the city limits, and yet nearly five hundred votes were polled at the election! With one exception, the majorities over the opposing candidate were small, and where so many confessedly illegal votes were cast, it is not unlikely that in some instance the will of the actual voters was thwarted and set aside by the interference of a class of men who had no right to vote and who have no interests whatever in the city.
We take it for granted that all law-abiding men are opposed to illegal voting, in whatever manner or to whatever extent practiced; and hence we expect that the proper authorities will not hesitate to apply a corrective to the gross and palpable abuses of the elective franchise to which we allude. It is of the highest importance to the future character of the city that this corrective should be applied in this instance – that the system of illegal voting, brought about through the undue influence of interested parties, should be effectually “nipped in the bud.” Foster and encourage the system, allow it to grow up with the city, establish a precedent, and illegal voting and ballot-box stuffing will very soon become the order of the day.
Transcribed by Shaun Reeser